Solo Trek

St. Augustine to Titusville, January 6 – 7, 2014

This is Phil, and I’m taking my first turn at writing the blog! Kay has shouldered the entire burden for the whole trip so far. I sailed solo out of St. Augustine for two days in early January, so this one is up to me.

Backing up a little bit, we had run out of vacation by the end of October. I had to find a desk with internet connection to work for awhile and work until I earned more time off. I knew that Cinderella was going to stop in St. Augustine, so that is where Catmandu tied up for more than two months: St. Augustine Municipal Marina. I became a Florida resident. I got my driver’s license, registered to vote, and got Florida stickers for Catmandu and Catnip (the dinghy). Kay flew back to New Hampshire, and was unceremoniously and unfairly laid off from her job as soon as she got home.

Time passed. I rented an office in town, and became fast friends with many people through the St. Augustine Cruisers’ Net. Then, our besties Dan & Jaye Lunsford invited us to their epic 30th anniversary party aboard the pirate ship Black Raven on January 4!

Kay and I had to go. It was a long trip from New Hampshire, but we needed to make it happen. It was the perfect opportunity to finally get ourselves south to final destination of Fort Lauderdale. Just before, Kay moved out of her condo, put it up for sale, packed up her two cats in her Saturn Ion and drove down to St. Augustine. She picked me up and then we both went to Fort Lauderdale and rented an apartment, left the cats, and drove back to St. Augustine on 1/4. We had a fantastic time on Saturday night, and spent Sunday on the mooring, recovering and getting the boat ready to sail south.

pirate party

Pirate-y Aftermath!

 pirate-party2

Dan and Jaye Lunsford’s Pirate Party even made the Jacksonville.com website!

Monday morning came. I tanked up with gas and water, motor sailed south. It rained for the first three hours, but I tried to stay mostly dry. I had a big northeast wind at about 20 knots, and I was able to make better than 6 knots with the genoa fully unfurled.

 

matanzas inlet

Matanzas Inlet

I always check the cruising guides, like On The Water Chart Guides and the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net, for the latest ICW trouble spots. They had both indicated shoaling (shallow water) at the Matanzas Inlet, just 20 miles south of St. Augustine. The ICW typically shoals around the inlets due to the constant flow of water and sand between the sea and the waterway. However, I followed others’ advice of trusting the buoys as they are placed and adjusted by the Coast Guard and not the electronic chart plotter. I zigged and zagged through the inlet and did not run aground – even though my chart plotter said I was sailing on land for several hundred yards (a situation which makes a sailor’s butt pucker). The larger sailboat behind me did a 180 when they got to the inlet until they figured out that they could follow the path I had shown.

The wind was still howling at 5:30 at night, so I anchored with the 35 pound big honkin’ anchor (“BHA”) and 70 feet of chain just south of Daytona Beach. The flags were banging on the shrouds so loudly I had to take the flags down. The weather turned cold. I bunked down in the cabin next to stove while heating a big clay flowerpot to disperse the heat.

 January 7

The forecast low temperature for Daytona Beach was 41 but it was only 32 degrees when I got up in the morning. I didn’t have warm winter clothes since they were still in my storage unit in Annapolis. So, I made hot coffee and put on all the clothes I had. There were no gloves so I wore some ski socks I found on my hands. The wind was still strong and it was extremely hard getting the anchor back on the boat. The regular way to get the anchor onboard is to have your partner (Kay) motor up to the spot just above where the anchor is set. Then the bow person (me) muscles it up onto the bow. Because the anchor is straight down, it should then pop right out of its muddy set on the bottom. It is almost impossible to pull the whole sailboat up by hand by the anchor rode under 20 knot winds.

Improvising, I motored up beyond where the anchor was. I put the engine in neutral, and scurried up to the bow and pulled up as much anchor chain as I could. When the anchor rode was taut again, I wrapped the chain around the cleat and scurried back to the cockpit. After the first round trip, my hands were so cold I could hardly move my fingers. I had to spend 15 minutes warming my hands each time before I tried again. It took me four tries, going back and forth, before the anchor finally broke free of the bottom. It felt like hockey season in Minnesota.

The temperature did not get above 42 degrees the whole day, but I stayed active and hydrated and made the best of sailing solo. I enjoyed unexpected inspiring views of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, and relaxing New Smyrna Beach. Then came the wide open waters of the Mosquito Lagoon. I saw about a dozen dolphins and a medium-sized turtle but no manatees. Fifteen miles out from my destination of the Titusville Municipal Marina, I saw the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building on Cape Canaveral getting larger and larger on the horizon.

HauloverCanalMixMap

The Haulover Canal

At the Haulover Canal, I left the Mosquito Lagoon and entered the Indian River just north of Titusville. Kay was waiting for me at the Titusville Municipal Marina, which is very close to Cape Canaveral. We tied up Catmandu in a slip around 1530 hours, had a hot Italian dinner at a local restaurant, and then Kay drove me back to our new apartment in Fort Lauderdale.

titusville

Destination: Titusville Marina, near Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.

 

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